Reach Out—God Is Closer Than You Know

We tend to emphasize his beyond-ness over his nearness. Why that’s a mistake.
Reach Out—God Is Closer Than You Know

Where is God?

It is a question that haunted me since I first met him as a boy. It is the type of question that has more than one referent, more than one significance for a life. One can satisfy the mind with a theological answer, but remain held by some visceral, gut-level longing. Is God truly here?

Fortunately, I believe that God has already provided a way to live that answer, indeed that he provided it long before our race could frame the words.

In talking about “where” God is, Christians are forced to retain two equal and (seemingly) opposing truths. We must with one hand cling to God’s transcendence—the doctrine that the triune God is utterly and infinitely beyond creation; and with the other to his immanence—the doctrine that he is utterly and infinitely close to his creation.

Christians have not always done well holding the two in balance. A quick survey of Christian literature, oratory, and art indicates that we prefer to emphasize transcendence over immanence. The truth that God is beyond all too often trumps the truth that God has chosen to be here with us—and “here” beyond any categories of time or space as we think of them.

From one perspective, this is understandable. After all, we’re here already, and here is a bit of a mess. We must look beyond, for the transcendent power of God from outside our experience of time and space to intersect our world in justice, meaning, and redemption. It is our only hope of salvation. But it is a meaningless hope if he did not dwell immanently with us here and now.

Here is the truth, historic and orthodox: When we look out at the world, we look out at a place where God the Creator is actively dwelling and working to sustain what ...

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